Well, sadly, today is the day we will lay Steve to rest, so to speak. The Celebration of Life is happening this evening and frankly, I am dreading being there. I wrote some thoughts to share, but I won't be able to get through them. Crying in public is not a good look for me. Luckily, another close friend has come to my rescue and agreed to read the words on my behalf. Losing people sucks!
Starr has asked me to carry some of Steve's ashes with me on my motorcycle travels which I will be honored to do as I do for another friend who died in 2017. Now Norman and Steve will have to share space in my tank bag, but I don't think either of them will complain too loudly. They will always be with me on the road and in my heart.[You must be registered and logged in to see this image.]
The business card is one Steve made up and carried to introduce himself and the GRiSO Ghetto to any other GRiSO rider he might encounter along the way. After he died, Starr gave me the leather Guzzi jacket that he wore and in the breast pocket, I found four of them. One is now permanently sealed inside the leather pouch with his ashes and his pictures and I will keep one for myself. The other two will go to Starr and to Don, his bestest best buddy going all the way back to college days.
I have so many memories of time spent with Steve, and like a lot of people, I considered him one of my closest friends. We were riding buddies, crossword puzzle junkies, lovers of puns, and dogs, and music and sports and friendship and family. With his early retirement, Steve managed to spend a lot of quality time with each of us. I got to spend a lot of time with him, but it will never be enough.
So many memories of riding our twin GRiSOs to monthly Guzzi Club breakfasts, National rallies, camp-outs, and day rides. There were many times when one of us would call the other up and say, “Let's go for a ride, just get the hell out of here for a while” and we'd gas up the bikes and bomb over I-90 just to have a cup of coffee at Snoqualmie Pass before coming back down the mountain and going back to work with clear heads and that giddy feeling that only a good, fast motorcycle ride can provide.
A group of us die-hard Guzzi riders had a tradition of eschewing the Bowl Games and the warm home fires to ride to Neah Bay on New Year's Day. I'll never forget the day it never got out of the twenties. At our gas stop in Port Angeles, we stuffed hand warmers into our boots to keep our toes from freezing. We arrived in Neah Bay to discover that both
restaurants were closed. Why wouldn't they be on a day that cold? So we went to the town grocery store and bought day-old sandwiches that we ate, standing up, shivering, in the ice-covered parking lot. Luckily, Karl had had the presence of mind to pack a hip flask full of Jameson which we passed around with gusto.
On another of those crazy New Year's Day rides, it rained hard. All day. We were miserable. Visibility was awful. We couldn't wait to get home. But we also felt a twisted sort of accomplishment, like we'd summited a mountain or some other nearly unobtainable feat or athletic challenge. We sat on the ferry, soaked to the skin, our riding gear dripping wet and forming a small lake around our feet. When you've had a rough day and survived it, sitting in the middle of a pond on the floor of a ferryboat cafeteria just makes you laugh out loud.
Not every day turned out so well. I was right in front of Steve the day we encountered the elk on Chinook Pass. I'll spare you the details of that episode, but it was not one of our better days.
Besides being my Guzzi brother, Steve really enjoyed hanging out with me in the studio, working on a project, or tinkering with the bikes. He helped me with numerous installations of my public art projects including the latest one in Selah just a few short weeks ago. We installed a piece at the Fremont Fire Station in 2013 and he produced a fun video with a soundtrack that includes the Squeeze classic, Cool for Cats
and a cover version of Johnny Cash's Mean-Eyed Cat
On that job, I introduced myself to the crane operator: “Hi, I'm Pete”
, I said. To which he replied:“Meat!”
. “No, Pete!”
, I said.
He said, “No, you're Pete, I'm Meat!”
. To which I responded:“Come here, I want to introduce you to Steak!”
That was the first and only time I ever had a Meat
and a Steak
on the same job site. By the way, you can watch that video and several others of motorcycle rides and his beloved dogs, Sue and Cash on his YouTube channel, 23Porterhouse
So many memories.
I remember the night of November 4th, 2008 (14 years ago today). Steve sat with us in our living room, his arm still in a cast from his encounter with the elk as we watched the election returns come in and we practically wept with pride and hope at that historic outcome.
We went to concerts together, Willie Nelson, Chris Isaak, Tedeschi Trucks and most recently, Alison Kraus and Robert Plant. He was always envious of Esther and me because we got to see his hero, Johnny Cash three times, and he never did see him live.
He built a fantastic internet forum, the GRiSO Ghetto which is the only forum I participate with and I'm on it every day.
Steve loved Starr more than anything and adored her kids, Addy and Preston so much, as do we. I admire their strength in getting through this – I would be completely lost without Esther.
He loved his dogs; Sue and Cash and GRiSO. And he loved ours too. Jellybean literally cried whenever he walked into the room and she'd put his entire forearm in her mouth, trying to eat him up, she loved him so much. She will never understand why he doesn't come around here anymore.
I will always remember you, Steve. I love you, Brother.